A brief history of the Drive-By Truckers becoming my favorite road trip band

Southern Rock Opera has been described as a break-thru album for the band. Never did a survey of the heAthens and wannabe heAthens that love this band, but for the former community organizer that is my alter-ego, that is the album that turned me on.

It was 2004 and I was on my way to Duval County Florida to be a Regional Field Director for a non-partisan voting rights/voter registration thing. While Democrats, in theory, mostly approved of this work (African-Americans lean D in the 70 to 90% range), some obviously did not. I don’t know the exact number of Dems that give zero fracks for black voting rights or the black experience, I met at least as many in Jacksonville as I met canvassing the raw racist white flight collar suburbs of Chicago.

While Republicans remained mostly disapproving or indifferent, some provided great help. Some still proudly stand for the Party of Lincoln. As an Illinoisan, I can appreciate that, despite the Republican party losing my vote in Beirut and never winning it back.

We received death threats and had our cars vandalized. We were harassed, but no one got killed or beaten with clubs. One of us did get jailed, however.

It was tough work. We had a hell of a team. This song was a part of the daily soundtrack in our field office. Sometimes playing in an hourly loop. It was as much a part of our culture as the picture of Jackie Robinson stealing home or the fridge filled with cold water and cold beer.

When you’re a Chicago guy culture-shocking on the duality of the Southern Thing, this is the perfect soundtrack.

Fast forward to me driving home from Louisville, Kentucky after the 2008 Democratic primary which put Barack Obama over the top in the delegate math for a Dem nomination over Hillary Clinton. She didn’t get the memo, but I was more concerned with seeing my boy and buying Brighter Than Creation’s Dark first chance I could.

Don’t make me explain why this song hit me right between the eyes. It did. Actually the whole album is pretty awesome. One of my all time favorites. Listen to it. Enjoy it or don’t.

Generally speaking, I’ve never been able to keep up with TV shows or bands or anything else because I’m trying to survive which is more than a full-time effort and also be some kind of working class hero/True American Revolutionary. Also, like to spend a lot of time completely wrapped up in myself. Also a full time job. There’s the duality of striving constantly for love and constantly being somehow ill-equipped for it. And then there’s this…

One of the three intersecting main characters of Willy Vlautin’s novel The Free is an emotionally removed nurse, Pauline Hawkins (Thanks, internet!) Tonight on DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA: Emotionally Removed Nurses and the Sensitive or Emotionally Damaged Men that fall for them!

So I went to see the band in Milwaukee and impressed my girlfriend.

MEMO to the INCEL CROWD: turning your girlfriend onto cool bands she’s never heard instead of berating her for perceived flaws might increase your chances of getting laid. I’ve done both and following your heart and expanding your mind with music seems to work better. I’ve had all kinds of people become my friend just out of pure love of music. I’ve had all kinds of friends share my love of music and hang out with me to explore more of that. Never had someone come back to my place so I could tell them why I think they’re wrong (even if they are).

This band is great in concert. They are great in studio, too. Buy all their albums. You heard it on the internet. It must be true.

On a lighter note, if I were Jimmy Page, I’d wear those Dragon Pants everywhere and woo you with my prowess…

After seeing the band in St. Louis, I started digging deeper in the band’s discography

There is so much more I can say about why I relate to this band and how much hard work they put in to be so well loved by a fiercely loyal group that ought to be so much larger, but I need to grab dinner and get ready to do some radio on WORT at 8pm Central tonight.

I just wanted to play some of the songs that didn’t make my playlist and I look forward to posting some pics and telling more about why this is a band worth adding to your collection.

I don’t just talk this group up, I bought all their albums and I’ve seen ’em every chance I can. I drive a lot and this is a great road trip band.


Tonight’s Psychoacoustics with Bad Sister Heidi, Rev. Sly Velveteen, and guest DJ Drive-By Truckers Geek can be live streamed on WORT or streamed on the archive for the next two weeks.

About Rude Truth

Podcast/Radio DJ and Blogger Alter-Ego. Fighting and Uniting all factions. View all posts by Rude Truth

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